Robert Calvert & Hawkwind
|"We would like an audience to have the same reaction seeing what we’re doing as we would if we were to go and see ourselves: A polished and astonishing act. That’s how I see it all developing. With more props and theatricals used not as gimmicks and effects but with a degree of artistry and skill to mean something of some sort of value, as well as making good entertainment." - R. Calvert|
first I thought it was part of the venue itself, a sort of modern art
creation designed to make Birmingham Odeon a more congenial place to see
Lit by diffused green light,
the construction not only took up the whole width of the stage but also
towered imposingly above the audience.
It was only when Hawkwind arrived onstage and the object blazed into life that I realised that it was in fact an integral part of the band`s new stage show. Called Atomhenge, it is every bit as impressive as Ritchie Blackmore's rainbow. Atomehenge is full of multi-coloured bulbs and light-effects.
Throughout Hawkwind's show it pulses on and off quite dramatically - and effectively: when slides are projected onto the screen behind it, the 3-D effect is quite startling.
Turner, Bob Calvert and Dave Brock play out the parts smoothly,
often malevolently, wearing weird accoutrements ranging from a gasmask
to a pair of lenses squarerimmed spectacles. Soon, Nik will be wearing
a spacesuit. A touch of rock theatre, a pounding rhythmic beat, a synthsised
wail and the Hawkwind machine grinds forward.
Calvert is a most
compelling onstage figure.
The sellout audience - remarkably few aging hippies in evidence, mark you - lap all this up with wide eyes and mouths held agape, I must admit that, before I entered the Odeon proper, I doubted Hawkwind's present day ability to draw capacity crowds and was quite shocked to find the venue literally bursting at the seams.
But I suppose, when you think about it, Hawkwind are now very much unique. Bands that once encroached upon their area of the cosmos - like Nektar of Pink Floyd - have either become less accessible or have fallen right by the wayside. Right now Hawkwind have a niche of the market much to themselves.
I mention the fact that
Hawkwind seem to be doing a lot of new material
Nik, Dave and myself are, in some parts of
the show, playing the parts of actors.
Plus, Nik, Dave and myself
keep seeing old numbers in new perspectives.
Now, all this may sound
,extremely silly SOUNDS reader, but believe me it works quite effectively.
We begin to talk about the various characters
Calvert plays onstage
I wondered, if Calvert
was surprised to find the tour so well attended.
"lt's something that's grown steadily over the years, it's happened gradually through our association with Michael Moorcock and others. Although Pink Floyd are a much more musically brilliant and more sophisticated band than we are, I think that as far as science fiction goes they're more in the Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke upper middle class, whereas we're more like Roger Zelazny.
This is reflected, I think, in the audiences who areat the momemt coming to our gigs. There's a fair smattering of old-time hippies admittedly, but there's also an awful lot of young kids, which is a healthy sign."
Too healthy, perhaps. I don't think even Calvert could have anticipated the scene outside the Liverpool Holiday lnn. Apparently, the Bay City Rollers had been staying at the hotel the night before Hawkwind and, as we pulled up outside, a few persistent tartan clad youngsters were still in attendance in front of the lobby doors. As we disembarked, three of them ran up to Nik Turner, yes, he of the thin frame and wiry beard which looks like a brillo pad left out too long in the sun, and demanded his autograph.